Till He Comes
October 2nd, 1977 @ 10:50 AM
TILL HE COME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:26
10-2-77 10:50 a.m.
It is an infinite gladness for us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas to welcome the great throngs and host of you who share the hour over television, not only from the broadcast signal here that covers the metroplex, but on cable in other states all through the Southwest. I hear of your prayerful attention, and I am encouraged by the words that are brought to me from you. Then there are other thousands who are listening on the two radio stations that carry the hour, KPBC and KCBI.
Once in a quarter we observe our Lord’s Supper in the morning. The other times we observe it at night. If I could we would always observe it at night. In every language in the world, a supper is a meal eaten at night. It is not a breakfast; it is not a brunch; it is not a tea; it is not a dinner. It is a supper. But appeal has been made to me in these years, past on the part of many, that there are older people who are unable to drive the car at night or are unable to be out in the evening. And for their sakes, we observe this memorial hour once every three months in the morning time.
Now tonight at 7:00 o’clock, I shall begin again in the Book of Acts. We are in chapter 9, and the title of the sermon is The Glory of That Light. And if you can pray, coming; bring a friend, coming; we shall have a great hour tonight at 7:00 o’clock, preaching in the ninth chapter of the Book of Acts: The Glory of That Light. Because of this memorial supper, I am turning aside to deliver a message entitled Till He Come. That is the closing clause of the institution of this memorial hour, when the Lord said, "For as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do present – you dramatize, you show forth – the Lord’s death till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26], achris hou an elthe, "till He come."
Now our reading from the Bible is in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Matthew:
Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread
– that’s the day following the Passover –
The disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him: Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?
And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples.
And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
– verse 26 –
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: Drink ye all of it
– drink all of you of it –
For this is My blood of the new covenant
– the new promise, the New Testament –
which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
I say unto you, I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
– when He comes, when He comes –
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.
As they were eating the Passover: against the background of the Passover, we speak of the meaning of the memorial supper. And in both of the great institutions, it looks back, it looks to the present, it looks forward to the glorious day that is yet to come.
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus is the institution of the Passover, where they were told to take a lamb for a house, and when the lamb is slain, "take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post" – on the lintel of the house – "wherein you are to eat it" [Exodus 12:7-8].
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.
And the people bowed the head and worshiped.
, Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.
As long as a Jew is a Jew, he is under mandate to observe the Passover. And it has a past in remembrance, and a present in dedication, and a future in consummation, in the coming of the Lord.
The past: now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt, four hundred thirty years; and on the end of that day of four hundred thirty years, it came to pass that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed. This is that night of the Lord to be observed, when they went out, when they were delivered by the hand of God from the darkness and the slavery of Egypt. So the Passover looked back, "This is in memory of the deliverance of God, when He brought us out and took us in to the Promised Land."
Then it has in its service an observance, a tremendous present:
It shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He visited that land. And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
It has a great present: the observance of the Passover. That child is to be faithfully taught and brought up in the nurture, in the love, in the admonition, and in the remembrance of the deliverance of the Lord.
Have you ever asked – or have you ever wondered – how is it that, for these thousands of years, Israel has been buried in the nations of the world; brought up in cultures, and climates, and religious backgrounds, and beliefs that were so antithetical to them and their strange customs? Can you imagine how unusual it was to live the life of a Jew in the pagan world, in the heathen world? They had no Sabbath; they had no monotheistic belief. They had no morality wedded to the Godhood. Their gods were more violent, immoral, than the people themselves were! How did the Jew survive when he had no homeland? He had no city, he had no place; he was looked upon as a stranger, and a pilgrim, and a foreigner, and a sojourner. How did he survive?
The answer is very plain: "When your children shall say, What mean ye by this service? Then ye shall say, "The Jew has lived because they faithfully taught their children the word and way of the Lord." And that institution of the Passover had a tremendous meaning in the life of the nation, as they lived in that present moment and that present day.
The education and the training of our children is the first commitment we have before God. However many other things are pressed upon us, our first mandate is to teach that child the Word, and way, and will of the Lord.
Then that Passover had a tremendous promise of the future:
And you shall take the blood of the lamb that is slain, and strike it on the two side posts, on either side, and on the lintel – on the upper post – wherein it is eaten.
That is, the blood of the Passover was placed on the outside of the house in the form of a cross, here, here and here. And it was to be openly and publicly displayed: this is a house that belongs to God. These are a people and a family who believe in the Lord.
And the blood, of course, is a promise of our future in Christ: the meaning of the Passover, which was hidden from their eyes, ultimately came to us in the brilliance of the revelation of God. This lamb is "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." And this blood, in the form of a cross, is the blood under which we hide ourselves, lest we die in our unforgiven and unwashed sins.
So the Passover had a tremendous future, looking to the day when the Lord Christ Messiah should come. And it was thus with the kings, looking ahead to the greater Son of David. And thus with the prophets, who spoke of "Him who should heal us from all our diseases, and deliver us from all our sins" [Psalm 103:3]; "God laying upon Him the iniquity of us all" [Isaiah 53:6]. Ever and always, the prophecies of the Jewish people look forward to the day when Christ should come. Thus it is with the Lord’s Supper, when at the feast of the Passover the Lord sat down and, in that memorial service, gave to them and to us alike memorial in the Christian faith and in the Christian church:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night,
– when He ate the Passover with His disciples –
, the same night in which He was betrayed He took bread;
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new promise in My blood; this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
The Lord’s Supper also – this memorial of the Lord’s sacrifice also – has a remembrance of the past: "Eat this bread in remembrance of Me, and drink this cup in remembrance of Me." It is a memorial service, it is nothing else. We’re not saved by it. It does not mediate to us any grace, particular, unusual, unique. It is altogether a memorial service. This, He asks that we do to bring back to our hearts His suffering and sacrifice and atoning blood for us.
There are two things about that that press upon my heart. Number one: the Lord came into this world to die for our sins. That was the purpose of His incarnation. One of the great theological tomes of this last century was written by Dr. Albert Schweitzer. It is entitled The Quest for fhe Historical Jesus. It is one of the great books of liberal theology – German rational theology – it is a standard in that liberal world. And the thesis of Albert Schweitzer in that tome is this: that the Lord Jesus expected the kingdom of heaven to descend apocalyptically, and when it did not He died in frustration, in defeat, and in despair. Not so, ever! From before the foundation of the world, He is the Lamb of God; offered for the sins of the people. And out of all of the wonderful things that Jesus spoke, He never said, "Remember these words." And out of all the miraculous deeds the Lord did, He never said, "Remember these miracles." But He did say, "Remember this atoning sacrifice, the pouring out of My life for you."
Second: this is a dramatic presentation of our deliverance from our sins and the judgment of God upon our iniquities. That is, our salvation is objective. It is outside of ourselves; it is not subjective, it is not inward, it is not grounded in me. Our salvation is outside of us, it’s beyond us – it’s an objective salvation. It’s not in me, it’s in Him. And if we could just remember that, oh, what a help and an encouragement it would be! For when I look at myself inwardly, I become discouraged. Lord, Lord! It’s like Paul wrote in the seventh chapter of the Book of the Romans: "O helpless, sorrowful, pitiful man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? What I want to do, I do not do," says Paul. "What I do not want to do, I do," says Paul [Romans 7:17-24].
My life is an endless story of weakness and mistake – of sin, of shortcoming – and I fall into despair when I look at myself. And if my salvation is grounded in me, if it is subjective and inward, I am, as Paul says, "of all men most miserable" [1 Corinthians 15:19]. But my salvation is outside of me. My salvation is beyond me, my salvation is objective; it’s in Him. And however I may be, He is all right. And however the world may be, He never fails. And however I may stumble and stagger and fall, He is never discouraged. And He is always right, and He is always able and mighty, and He will see me through.
So if I look at myself, it’s a discouraging prospect. But if I look at Him, it’s the glory of the presence of the Lord. And I wish ten thousand times over again I could say to the people with whom I visit, "Lift your eyes and look upon Jesus. The downward look may be black; the upward look is always light. Look at Jesus, look to Him!" That is the purpose of this memorial supper: that we might lift up our eyes upon Him.
There is life for a look at the Crucified One.
There is life at this moment for thee.
Then look, sinner, look upon Him who was crucified
Upon Him who was nailed to the tree.
[from "Life for a Look," Miss Amelia M. Hull, c. 1875]
Our salvation is in Him, not in us. And we look to Him in praise, and love, and thanksgiving, and gratitude for saving us from our sins. It has a backward look, this Lord’s memorial. It has a present meaning; we are to feed upon Christ, He is to be bread for us and drink for us:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and never die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life;
and I will raise him up at the last day.
For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, even so shall he live by Me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; but he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.
That is, we are to feed upon Christ. He is to be the staff of life for us. As the Psalmist said:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly … But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night
So it is for us: we feed upon Christ, and we think of our Lord. And we are taught in the way of our blessed Savior, and we cannot be taught too much, nor could we assemble too often, nor can we sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus too long, thinking, meditating, loving, learning, obeying.
One of the great volumes of the Christian faith is Sheldon’s In His Steps, or, What Would Jesus Do? And every instance in the life he portrayed: "What would the Lord say?" and, "What would the Lord do?" That is to be with us as we walk with the Lord: He is our bread, He is our drink, He is our strength, He is our life.
Here is a poem written by a man named Josiah Conder, who lived  years ago. Listen to it:
Bread of Heaven, on Thee we feed,
For Thy love is food indeed;.
Ever let our souls be fed
With this true and living Bread.
Vine of heaven, Thy blood supplies
This blest Cup of sacrifice;
Lord, Thy wounds our healing give;
To Thy cross we look and live.
Day by day with strength supplied,
Through the life of Him who died;
Lord of life, O let us be
Rooted, grafted, built in Thee!
["Bread of Heaven on Thee We Feed"; Josiah Conder, 1824]
It has a present meaning. We feed upon the Lord. His life for us is manna, bread of heaven, angel’s food. And it has, of course – this Lord’s Supper – it has a tremendous looking up and looking forward to the future: "For as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26], till He come – to that final and consummation day, when we dwell in a new world, in a new heaven, in a new city, seated at the marriage supper of the Lamb; when it shall come to pass that the Lord’s saying is true: "For I will not eat henceforth of the fruit of the vine, or drink, or eat of the broken bread, until I do it new with you in My Father’s kingdom" [Matthew 26:29] – looking forward and looking ahead to the glorious consummation of the age, when the Lord shall come. Now, in the Passover: eating with bitter herbs. Now, in our dear church, sitting down where there is an empty seat.
After the service this morning, I heard two people talking. There’s a row right over there at the 8:15 service that is filled every Sunday by Dewey Hunt and his wife, Bill Hunt and his wife, and Dewey Hunt, Sr. and his wife. We’re preparing, at 10:00 in the morning, a memorial service for dear Blossom Hunt, the mother of those two deacons, and the wife of that godly man, Dewey, Sr. And all through the congregation, I can so easily remember – after thirty-three years – the faithful ones who sat there, and who sat there, and who sat there, and who sat there. Their seats are empty now, and the place at the table is not filled. But it’s not that way forever. Our tears now fall unbidden to the ground. And our hearts are sometimes crushed in sorrow, but not forever. There is a day coming when God shall speak to these who have fallen asleep, and they will be raised from among the dead. And God shall make right all the wrong in this world, and there will be no more night, and be no more sorrow, and be no more death, and be no more crying, and be no more tears [Revelation 21:4; 22:5]. This, God hath pledged to us in this beautiful and meaningful supper: Eat now, drink now – until He come – till He come.
Till He come; oh, precious promise!
To the pilgrim on his way
Like the shining star of morning
Pointing to a perfect day.
Till He come; oh, wondrous whisper!
To the heart by sorrow tried.
Giving glimpses of that moment
When the tears of earth are dried.
Till He come; oh, stirring signal
To the soldier in the fight.
Giving courage for the conflict
And the darkest hour of night.
Till He come; oh, heavenly music!
‘Mid the medley of the earth
Turning me from gilded pleasure
To the pearl of priceless worth.
Till He come; oh, mighty moment!
Moving nearer on time’s wing
When the church shall rise triumphant
To her marriage with the King.
Till He come!
Till He come; oh, let me hear it!
Till the storms of life are past
And I see Him in His beauty
On the advent morn at last.
[Author and source unknown]
"For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you show forth the Lord’s death till He come [1 Corinthians 11:26]," till He come – till we see Him, descending from the skies; when the heavens are rolled back like a scroll, and our Lord – personally, visibly, triumphantly – even He shall descend in glory, in triumph, in great power and wonder. Oh, the preciousness and the comfort and the promise of the Christian faith! And that is ours forever, to share with you, world without end.
In a moment we stand to sing our hymn of appeal. And as we sing that song, you, to give your heart to Jesus; you – bringing your family to the Lord and to us – as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, out of the balcony round, on the first note of the first stanza, come. The throng and press of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, come. I’ll be standing right there by the side of that communion table, gladly, happily, prayerfully – with every thought and word of gratitude my soul is capable of – I’ll be there to welcome you, to greet you into the kingdom, taking Jesus as Savior, into the fellowship of the church, as God shall lead you to come by statement, or by letter, or by baptism – do it. On the first note of the first stanza, come, come. Come, while we stand and while we sing.